Fri, 14 Dec 2018
52
Washington

Lawyers for the woman who is accusing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault more than 30 years ago says she wants the FBI to investigate her allegation before she testifies publicly.

Kavanaugh denies the charge and will apparently tell his side of the story before the Senate Judiciary Committee next Monday.

His accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, has also been invited to testify.

But Ford's lawyers say in a letter to Committee Chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley, that some of the senators on the committee 'appear to have made up their minds' and believe Kavanaugh.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, center, walks past members of the media as he heads to the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018.

'A full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a nonpartisan manner and that the committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions,' the letter states.

President Donald Trump gave Kavanaugh a ringing new endorsement Tuesday, saying he felt 'so badly' that Kavanaugh is facing scrutiny over allegations that he assaulted a teenage girl when both were in high school.

'This is not a man that deserves this,' Trump said. 'I feel terrible for his family.'

The president assailed California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein for not disclosing the allegations when she first learned of them in July. He accused Democrats of being 'lousy politicians, but good obstructionists' in their efforts to derail Kavanaugh's confirmation to a lifetime appointment on the country's highest court.

From left, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., assistant Senate minority leader, speaking about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Ford, a California psychology professor, told The Washington Post Kavanaugh groped her at a suburban Washington house party when she was 15 and he was 17.

She said Kavanaugh, 'stumbling drunk,' threw her down on a bed, grinding his body against hers and trying to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she was wearing over it. Ford said when she tried to scream, he put his hand over her mouth.

She said she feared Kavanaugh might inadvertently kill her before she managed to flee.

Some Democratic lawmakers have also called for an FBI investigation. The agency conducted background checks six times over the years on Kavanaugh.

But Trump said ahead of his news conference, 'I don't think the FBI should be involved because they don't want to be involved.' He said senators hearing Ford's accusations, if she testifies, 'will open it up and they will do a very good job' considering Ford's allegations and Kavanaugh's denial.

Grassley said the panel plans to call only two witnesses, Ford and Kavanaugh, and not another man, Mark Judge, whom Ford says was in the same bedroom during the alleged attack.

Grassley's omission of Judge, who has denied an attack occurred, and other possible witnesses, drew the ire of Feinstein, the top Democrat on the judiciary panel that is considering Kavanaugh's nomination and held four days of testimony earlier this month, including hours of questioning of Kavanaugh.

'It's impossible to take this process seriously,' Feinstein said.

Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, responds to reporters' questions on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

'What about other witnesses like Kavanaugh's friend Mark Judge?' Feinstein said. 'What about individuals who were previously told about this incident? What about experts who can speak to the effects of this kind of trauma on a victim? This is another attempt by Republicans to rush this nomination and not fully vet Judge Kavanaugh.'

The Senate's No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, raised doubts about Ford's account of the alleged three-decade-old incident, saying, 'The problem is Dr. Ford can't remember when it was, where it was, or how it came to be.'

Republicans, some of whom see the allegations as a stalling tactic by Democrats to thwart Kavanaugh's confirmation, have been pushing to confirm him before November's midterm elections, when they could lose their 51-49 majority control of the Senate.

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